Variety Big Data Summit 2016 and the Ubiquity of Data in all Things

Takeaways from the Variety Big Data Summit 2016

By Rob Lawrence – Southern California Business Development Manager, eSage Group

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Attending the Variety Big Data Summit for three years in a row now has always been a rewarding and insightful endeavor for me. My understanding of the data landscape in entertainment, and really business in general, has grown exponentially over the years I’ve worked in business development for a data integration and business intelligence consultancy. What I’ve come to realize over the years is that I’ve witnessed the rise of a concept that really had already existed for a very long time: Big Data. I’ve seen the widespread adoption and use of Big Data (or at least the hope to be using it someday, in some cases). Reflecting on the things I learned at this last Summit earlier this month, it occurred to me that the ubiquity of Big Data is here, finally! Or has it always been here? OK, let’s explore what I mean.

Taking a look at the topics discussed at the day-long event is reminiscent of any collegiate marketing or business major’s syllabus for a given semester: “Explore data’s growing impact on media and entertainment spanning content creation, audience measurement, monetization, marketing, asset management and more.” Subtract the overall look at entertainment specifically, and what you have here is a study in data (information) for the purpose of creating, measuring, monetizing, marketing, and managing your business. Whatever business you are in, you either do these things better than your competition, or you fail. The deeper dive panel discussions at Summit were a good reminder that data is challenging the way business has been done in the past. We looked at important topics such as Reaching a Global Audience, Engaging Relevant Audiences, People-Based Marketing, Sports & Data, Privacy & Security, The New Video Economy, Data Science, and Data & Creativity. All topics that have profound effect on the entertainment and media business, and most should be equally as important to non-entertainment verticals. Data is ubiquitous and we’ve been collecting it for years. The sense I have is that businesses are just now beginning to realize the benefits of what we’ve been talking about since the inception of the Big Data movement, and going forward this journey will never really end.

One of the panel discussions at Summit struck me as a very important commentary on the benefits of using data to drive demand, engagement, and understanding of the customer journey: The Rise of People-Based Marketing. This topic is new only in the sense that we are beginning to bring all of the pieces of the puzzle together in marketing, and some new pieces of that puzzle have emerged. I liked what Sean Moran, Head of Marketing & Partner Solutions, at Viacom had to say regarding this: “It’s cliché to say that we’re in a more evolved state in marketing than ever in our history. We’ve talked about it for a long time, but before now it was never actualized. Such rapid exchange and pace of what data can be captured during a behavior revolution. It’s all coming together. We’re connecting in a targeted way in which the ability to get targeting and predictability at scale in TV and extending it to other platforms, so you can predict the consumer’s behavior by fusing data together through viewing, geo-location as well as purchase intent. Emotional connection plays into this as well. The excellence of data can only take you so far, you have to understand the emotional connection of consumers. Some are jumping on that, others see data as a way of sourcing up the currency that’s been happening since 50 years ago.” So, in theory, the ability to collect data and the ever increasing data points that are collectible are truly giving companies the opportunity to tap into the consumers’ emotional state at the most critical points along the customer journey. We might predict what the consumer is feeling before they realize what they are feeling. However, and to counterpoint this concept, I also liked what Andrew Appel, President and CEO at IRI had to say with regard to the fragmentation of all these data points: “Yet nobody really has the capability to do that (use the data with a level of sophistication), so while the fragmentation is exploding, the ability to get all those different data sets into one place (shopper data, media data, consumer data, context data, purchase intent, television viewing habits, exposure to advertising, etc.) at an individual level to effectively score each and every consumer in real time, on what will drive their behavior change, what you should use to target them, and ultimately measure whether or not it changed their behavior, is ever more difficult.” While I agree with Andrew that it is ever more difficult, I also believe companies are getting savvier at doing these things, and thus the journey to marketing analytics nirvana continues.

It wouldn’t be right for me to finish my post without talking about Mobile. Mobile in the sense that everyone is connected, everywhere they go, regardless of the device at the crux of the matter. This represents a very intriguing opportunity for businesses, and I suspect it will only continue to grow ever more intriguing as we get better at things like attribution, segmentation and personalization, and as technologies like VR begin to take hold. On that, I agree with Eric Smith, Industry Manager, US Entertainment, at Facebook, who said: “Facebook has embraced mobile for consumers. For consumers it is known that 1 out of 5 Mobile minutes spent is either on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook has a very personal connection with people as it creates 1.8 billion personalized experiences for people every month given their active user base. Mobile is one of the key doorways to personalization. These are big numbers, but that is how you get to scale. The scale of personalization. A couple of things Facebook has worked hard at are; a strategy that they’ve built for their Partners called Test Learn and Act, where we understand who was interested in their content or the game. A great example is with Ubisoft on a game they are launching in the Tom Clancy series. We understood with them that there are three really important segments within their user base (Why people want to purchase and play their games): there’s a group that’s really interested in the technology and strategy and gadgets and gizmos, there’s a group that is really into the adrenaline and competition, and there’s a group that’s just really fascinated by the open world play where they can go and explore a universe that is unlike the one we live in in real-time. So Facebook worked with Ubisoft to understand these audiences and then to build a creative doorway; a 5-second bit of content that they laid on top of the trailer for their game that really appealed to those segments. We showed a lot of the tech, gadgets and gizmos to that audience, and so forth. We saw 63% increase in Purchase Intent, amongst those audiences by properly segmenting and then speaking to them in the right creative language – we’ve applied that to movies as well. Sony (where Eric used to work) is now a client of Facebook’s. Working together on the Sony film: Money Monster, using this same strategy, they found that men 25 to 34, an audience they hadn’t expected to be interested, but very much was. So Facebook worked with Sony again to help create some creative that spoke to that audience, targeting clusters that would reach those men, 25 to 34. As a result, they found in the exit poles there was a strong demographic of them that actually went to the film. This is the Intersection of the Content and Mobile Marketing Personalization experience.” Well said, Eric. None of which could be done without the proper collection of data, not just from mobile, but from all of the other myriad places we are able to pull from, and those are only growing exponentially with new platforms, technologies, and ways to consume content. Each new form is representative of a whole new world of available data points around the customer journey: The Ubiquity of Data in All Things!

In conclusion I’d like to say that the Variety Big Data Summit 2016 was a relevant and successful event, as it has been in past years. I’d recommend anyone working in Entertainment, or in a business that is striving to be more Data Driven to attend. I’d also say that the attendees at this event each year prove to be highly engaged, many thought leaders in their own right, and thus the networking is a blast. From a “Big Data” perspective, it is clear to me that the use of data for all things in business has a very broad surface, which has only been slightly scratched. It’s an exciting time for marketers, content creators, and businesses who have honed a skill around experimenting with, and utilizing data in new and innovative ways. Now, can we get back to referring to the practice of collecting and harnessing data as something other than “Big Data”? Perhaps we just go back to calling it, regular old, good old-fashioned, DATA.

The Future of Enterprise Analytics

Over the last couple weeks since the 2016 Hadoop Summit in San Jose, eSage Group has been discussing the future of big data and enterprise analytics.  Quick note – Data is data and data is produced by everything, thus big data is really no longer an important term.

hspeopleeSage Group is specifically focused on the tidal wave of sales and marketing data that is being collected across all channels, to name a few:

  • Websites – Cross multiple sites, Clicks, Pathing, Unstructured web logs, Blogs
  • SEO –  Search Engine, Keywords, Placement, URL Structure, Website Optimization
  • Digital Advertising – Format, Placement, Size, Network
  • Social
    • Facebook – Multiple pages, Format (Video, Picture, GIF), Likes (now with emojis), Comments, Shares, Events, Promoted, Platform (mobile, tablet, PC) and now Facebook Live
    • Instagram – Picture vs Video, Follows, Likes, Comments, Reposts (via 3rd Party apps), LiketoKnow.it, Hashtags, Platform
    • Twitter – Likes, RT, Quoted RT, Promoted, Hashtags, Platform
    • SnapChat – Follows, Unique views, Story completions, Screenshots.  SnapChat to say the least is still the wild west as to what brands can do to engage and ultimately drive behavior.

Then we have Off-Line (Print, TV, Events,  etc). Partners. 3rd Party DataDon’t get me started on International Data. 

Tired yet?

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While sales and marketing organizations see the value of analytics, they are hindered by what is accessible from the agencies they work with and by the difficulty of accessing internal siloed data stored across functions within the marketing organization – this includes central corporate marketing, divisional/product groups, field marketing, product planning, market research and operations.

Marketers are hindered by access to the data and the simple issue of not knowing what data is being collected.  Wherever the data lies, it is often controlled by a few select people that service the marketers and don’t necessary know the value of the data they have collected.  Self-service and exploration is not possible yet.

Layer on top this the fact that agile marketing campaigns require real-time data (at least close real time) and accurate attribution/predictive analytics.

So, you can see there are a lot of challenges that face a marketing team, let alone the deployment of an enterprise analytics platform that can service the whole organization.

Now that I have outlined the business challenges, let’s look at what technologies were mentioned at the 2016 Hadoop Summit that are being developed to solve some of these issues.

  • Cloud, cloud, cloud– lots of data can be sent up, then actively used or sent to cold storage on or off prem.  All the big guys have the “best” cloud platform
  • Security – divisional and function roles, organization position, workflow
  • Self-Service tools – ease of data exploration, visualization, costs
  • Machine Learning and other predictive tools
  • Spark
  • Better technical tools to work with Hadoop, other analytics tools and data stores
  • And much more!  

Next post, we will focus on the technical challenges and tools that the eSage Group team is excited about.

Cheers! Tina

 

 

 

Get Marketing Insights Fast Without a Data Hostage Crisis

shutterstock_210349615The landscape for marketing analytics solutions is more cluttered than ever with multiple options and approaches for marketing departments to consider.  One option that we are seeing more and more of is a seductive offering that promises a simple, fast, nearly turnkey approach to getting analysis and insight from your growing stacks of data.  The offer is this: a vendor will import your data to their systems, do analysis on it with their in-house experts, and come back to you with insights that will help you run your business better.

No doubt, this is an attractive offer if you are like many marketing organizations, struggling to get internal resources to help consolidate data and do the analysis required to get you the insights you need.   Business Intelligence resources are hard to find in your company, the data holders in IT are backlogged and short staffed.  You need insights now to help engage and sell to your customers and are done waiting on internal resources so why not go this route?  While likely a quick, tactical solution that will get you answers in the near term, there are several major drawbacks to this solution as a longer term strategy.

Market leading organizations know that their data is a significant asset that, when used well, can help them better understand and engage their customers, anticipate customer needs, cross sell, upsell, and stay ahead of the competition. As part of making data a core competency, your organization has to do the hard work to intimately know its data, its strengths, its shortcomings, and understand what it can tell you about your business.  That intimate understanding of data only comes from digging in, “doing the homework,” investing in the infrastructure and skillsets to excel at business intelligence inside the organization.  Organizations that have this kind of understanding of their data are continually improving the quality of data in their organization and building the kind of sustainable internal BI capability that actually adds significantly to the value and sustainability of the company.  C-suite, take note!

If you outsource that knowledge, you may get the answers you seek fast, but you do not get the sustainable, growing capability in-house that becomes a core differentiator for your company and helps you lead the market. datahostagecalloutI’m amazed when I hear this but it is very common practice. What if your vendor company goes out of business, gets acquired, changes business models or you decide to change vendors?  Your vendor is holding your data hostage.  What are you left with then?  All the money you spent bought you yesterday’s insights but you have no investment or capability towards the future.   Your team has none of the knowledge or infrastructure to sustain and continue to grow that flow of business intelligence that is critical to serving your customers and staying ahead of your competition.   You are back to zero.

Fair enough you say, but damn it, I still need insights now and I can’t wait any longer.  Tactical and non-sustainable is better than nothing right?  Well consider that it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” approach.  There is a way to get fast and sustainable.  You can start with a partner who gets you to the critical insights you need now, but is doing it on your systems, building out infrastructure you own (be it in the cloud on your behalf or on premises), and is helping mentor your team members along the way.  You may spend a little more along the way to do this, but in this approach you are investing, not just paying a monthly fee with no incremental addition of value to your company.  Very quickly you will be way ahead.

If the vendor you pick, in this case, goes out of business, moves on, or you decide to part ways, there may be some short term pain, but you own the assets, data, and business logic they built and you have team members who have been working directly with the technology and data, “doing the homework”, and can keep you moving forward.  Nobody has your data held hostage.

The right choice for a vendor should:

  • Have deep experience utilizing the cloud to get you up and running fast, with limited need for hardware purchase and support.  The cloud is great but make sure it is your, cloud, not someone else’s.
  • Work with you to understand your unique needs, data, internal team skills and challenges, and creates a roadmap to Business Intelligence ROI internally.
  • Provide all the senior BI talent you need now to get answers fast, but also help you grow that skill in house, with training, new employee interviewing and ongoing mentoring.  They need to have a demonstrated understanding that knowledge transition to your team is part of the deliverable and be committed to providing it.

Pick a partner who can help you avoid having your data taken hostage, while getting you the insights and ROI you need fast!

Written by Duane Bedard, eSage Group President and Co-Founder

 

 

Executive Evening Out with eSage Group and Microsoft

On March 10th, eSage Group held its first Executive Evening Out at the exclusive Rainier Club in Downtown Seattle. The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advanced Analytics.

On March 10th, eSage Group held its first Executive Evening Out at the exclusive Rainier Club in Downtown Seattle.  The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advanced Analytics.

15 Seattle area executives, from the likes of Starbucks, Trupanion, Allrecipes, Alaska Air, Disney and their guests joined us for a short presentation by Shish Shridhar, Worldwide Director for Business Intelligence Solutions – Retail for Microsoft, then sat down to a 5 course meal with wine pairings presented by The Rainier Club sommelier.

Microsoft has a powerful offering, from Azure Machine Learning, Cortana Analytics Suite, SQL 2016 and PowerBI. It was definitely a learning experience along with a wonderful meal and wines.